Mt Mahler and Mt Richthofen, the high point in the Never Summer Mountains.
We hope for close-to-normal conditions on race day, as related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Current race information reflects a normal year. Details may change as race day approaches, and any changes will be communicated to registered runners well in advance. For reference, here are the 2020 COVID Safety Protocols.
The 102km (63.0 mile) course will have approximately 14,000ft of hard-earned vertical gain and 14,000 feet of equally hard-earned vertical descent, for an elevation change total of 28,000 feet.
The 60km (36.5 mile) course will have approximately 8,850ft of hard-earned vertical gain and 8,850 feet of equally hard-earned vertical descent, for an elevation change total of 17,700 feet.
Both races will begin at an elevation of 9,100 feet at the Gould Community Center, and will set out in a southeasterly direction on two-track trail heading towards Seven Utes Mountain (11,453′), the alpine summit of which will be gained six miles into the run. The view of the sun coming up over the Nokhu Crags should be pretty special as you pop up above tree line.
From Seven Utes the route crosses a short saddle to connect to the Silver Creek trail which traverses the shoulder of Braddock Peak, before dropping into beautiful Lake Agnes under Mt Mahler and Mt Richthofen and sitting at 10,700′. Runners will follow the northern shoreline of Lake Agnes before dropping down to the historic Michigan Ditch service road directly below the Nokhu Crags on a short section of scree trail. The Michigan Ditch will take runners around the northeast ridge of the Nokhu Crags to the first aid station at the base of the American Lakes trail. From the aid station, runners ascend up to the stunning American Lakes (11,200′) on the backside of the Crags. Runners will then drop back down and cross the Michigan Ditch following the American Lakes trail out to the Diamond aid station at the junction of the American Lakes and Agnes access roads.
From the aid station, runners will cross Highway 14 and ascend steeply to North Diamond Peak (11,850′), the high point on the course, from where the route will follow the summit ridge of the Medicine Bow Mountains on faint trail for approximately two miles, before descending west off the ridge on rough jeep road.
It is on this descent that the courses split. The 100km runners will turn onto to the Yurt contour trail at approximately 9,600′, approximately 2 miles down the hill. The 60km runners will continue following Montgomery Pass 4WD Road down to its junction with Bockman Road. A quick right turn and 3/4mi more will have you arrive at the Bockman Aid Station, where the courses reconvene.
For 100km runners, the Yurt trail will not be your friend. It is rough, but will be marked well. Once negotiated, the Yurt trail spits out onto the Ruby Jewel access road which runners take back up the hillside towards Clark Peak for a mile or two before turning north onto the Hidden Valley trail. This trail will take runners back up into the alpine to the high point in Hidden Valley (11,200′), before the descent to beautiful Kelly Lake with views of the Nokhu Crags now far off in the distance to the south. From Kelly Lake the descent down the Kelly Lake trail follows the channel carved out by Kelly Creek through a mix of pine forest and huge old growth aspen groves.
A new Kelly Lake Cut-Off Trail turns you north just before you reach the clear cut portion of the Kelly Lake trail, delivering you to Clear Lake Road in 0.6mi of wooded single track. We loved Clear Lake so much, we decided to throw in a quick 3.1 mile out and back up to the lake. Back-of-the-pack runners will be in for a special treat as they descend back from Clear Lake with an amazing sunset view across North Park to the Park Range.
With Clear Lake negotiated, at approximately 44 miles and over 10,000 feet into your day, the meat of the climbing will have been accomplished. As you loop around on the northern perimeter of the course, you’ll be treated to huge views of the mileage you’ve already accomplished, both in the Medicine Bow Mountains and Never Summer Mountains.
Your trek south will parallel the Medicine Bow range in the valley below, beginning on a mix of single track and double track bordered with vibrant Rocky Mountain wildflowers at the 8,500′ low point on the course. By the Canadian yurt, you will connect with the Northern section of the Yurt trail passing across rough pasture and through pine forest on a slight upward trajectory back to Ruby Jewel Road.
From Ruby Jewel Road, it is fast downhill to the Lumberjack trail and a rolling traverse through a large meadow to the Bockman Aid Station and final crew access location. The final climb is a slow grind up to the Gould Mountain saddle on a mix of forest road and rough logging roads. The final descent from the saddle will bring you out to Highway 14, which must be crossed by the Ranger Lakes Campground before the final two groomer miles into the finish.
Make no mistake, these are tough courses, but with perseverance and a steady head you will get it done, and we can’t wait to see that happen!
The course will be well marked with hot pink flagging plus extra pin flags and flour at important intersections. On longer stretches of trail, flagging will be placed approximately every quarter mile. Turns will be marked heavily with 3-4 extra flags before the turn and 3-4 flags within line of sight leading away in the right direction. So if you see a lot of flags, pay attention and watch for the next turn. If you don’t see any flags for over 10 minutes you’re likely off course and need to turn back.
Some of the “trails” that the course uses can be rough and overgrown, and are at times barely recognizable as trail. So keep your head up and follow the course markings at all times. Cattle and other wildlife in the area may damage or completely remove course markings. So we highly recommend uploading GOX tracks to your watch or GOS device if you can, or bringing both maps and written directions to follow the course.